Does Post-Secondary (Science) Education set up Barriers to Success for Aboriginal Students?

April 14, 2011 :: Michelle Hogue
Moderated by Mike Frank

To date, there has been very little work done or literature available on the stories, the narratives of experience, of those Aboriginal individuals who have journeyed through post-secondary, Eurocentric paradigm-based Western education successfully. This is a critical missing (qualitative) piece in the literature. So much quantitative data and attention around the issues of Aboriginal success focuses on the lack of success, on Western education, on the negatives or deficiencies, on how poorly Aboriginal students do relative to non-Aboriginal students. Seldom do we hear how they have excelled, what has enabled them.

In understanding the post-secondary experience of Aboriginal students, it is important to hear the story from their voices and from their perspective such that it will lead a better understanding of success rather than always focusing on the deficit. The speaker’s research entailed collecting and evaluating the oral, educational, experiential narratives of perceived both “successful”
and “unsuccessful” Aboriginal individuals who journeyed through post-secondary Western education. These narratives served as the raw data around her research, focused on answering the questions: 1) How did those Aboriginal individuals journey through post-secondary education, with focus on science, and succeed when most do not? 2) What worked for them? 3) What were their challenges? 4) How did they manage that space between paradigms? 5) How did they turn the “space between” from a “gap, border or roadblock” to a liminal place of possibility? 6) How do they exist in that space now? 7) How does their story, their experience serve to inform, enable and mentor others embarking on such a journey? 8) How can such success enable the voice and subjectivity of Aboriginal people for the future economic milieu and globalization?

Speaker: Michelle Hogue Ph.D.

Dr. Michelle Hogue is the Coordinator of the First Nations Transition Program at the University of Lethbridge and teaches as well, in that program. A Métis from Saskatchewan, her recent Ph.D. from the University of Calgary, focuses on the success of Aboriginal students in Post-Secondary Education, with a passionate focus on the sciences. Michelle believes post-secondary education is critical for Aboriginal students and it is the “New Buffalo”. She also believes the young Aboriginal populations are going to be the next leaders and professionals because, unlike the non-Aboriginal population, they live in and between both worlds which will be advantageous in this time of globalization.

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